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Album Review: Kvelertak’s Splendid Splid

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Kvelertak’s self-titled 2010 debut was an all-timer, an album so good that the band never managed to top or even equal it. Not that their subsequent two releases, Meir and Nattesferd, were bad; they just weren’t anywhere close to Kvelertak. The material was simply missing that magical mix of crazy-good hooks and snotty energy that made you wanna chug a beer and then break the bottle over your own head.

That makes Kvelertak’s fourth album, Splid, a return to form of sorts. I still don’t think it’s as good as Kvelertak… but it’s pretty goddamn close. Tracks like “Rogaland,” “Bråtebrann,” “Necrosoft,” and “Fanden ta dette hull!” maintain some of the more melodic elements from Nattesferd, with classic rock-ish harmonized guitars and hippy-dippy choruses, but they all still feel dirty in all the best ways. “Ved bredden av Nihil,” meanwhile, mixes the dreamy with the arsonistic to great effect, suggesting some sort of sick collaboration between modern-era Darkthrone and The Eagles, while a pair of English language cuts — “Crack of Doom” (featuring Mastodon’s Troy Sanders) and “Discord” — are gloriously obnoxious, destructive punk anthems. “Uglas hegemoni” and “Tevling” have a hint of ’80s New Wave, as though the band were writing their own soundtrack for Valley Girl, and while that might not sound like it would work, it actually works really, really well. And new frontman Ivar Nikolaisen has no problem filling the shoes of his predecessor, Erlend Hjelvik

Splid isn’t perfect. The second half definitely sags a bit compared to the first, and the 8+ minute “Delirium tremens” sounds like a bunch of potentially-cool pieces smushed together, but it never quite gels, so it ends up sounding like a collection of good riffs in search of a song to occupy. But Splid remains Kvelertak’s strongest offering in a decade, the worthy follow-up to the eponymous debut for which we’ve been waiting. Here’s hoping it’s not another ten years before they make an album this good again.

Kvelertak’s Splid comes out Friday, February 14 on Rise Records. You can listen to the “Bråtebrann” here and pre-order the album here.  Kvelertak have a string of European tour dates lined up for February and March; get their itinerary and buy tickets here.

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